A couple of questions since I am new to DW and  trying to understand some nuances.

A couple of questions since I am new to DW and  trying to understand some nuances.

A couple of questions since I am new to DW and  trying to understand some nuances.

1. XP – where does it come from? How does it get dispersed? At what point does a character level? 

2. If a PC is just asking questions to local NPCs, there’s no rolling involved correct? It’s just a conversation between the PC and the DM controlled NPC correct? Until the PC tries to parlay, it’s just whatever the DM wants to say?

Are there other options if the PC wants to threaten, cajole, sweet-talk, etc?

20 thoughts on “A couple of questions since I am new to DW and  trying to understand some nuances.”

  1. Look at the bottom of page 28 under the Level Up section. There are basically three ways players earn XP:

    1) immediately when they get a 6- on a roll;

    2) at the end of a session when they make they make the End of Session move (see page 76);

    3) whenever any other move tells them to “mark XP”. 

    Parley covers all of the social interactions you mentioned. Unless and until the PC has leverage over an NPC and attempts to manipulate them, then yes. The PC and NPC are just talking.

    Leverage is the key for the Parley move. Without leverage, the move doesn’t trigger. Leverage can be almost anything. Look at page 68 and 69 for some good examples.

  2. XP comes from:


    •Three questions (check the special moves)

    •Resolve Bonds

    Spend XP=Level+7 to level up when resting

    Everything is conversation, including getting info and chatting up NPCs. The GM answers honestly, according to their prep (not technically whatever they want to say). If you want something in particular, and they’re unwilling, but you know what they like you can use Parley. Threatening is probably better rendered Defy Danger+Strength, or Charisma with the Danger being they react badly and take a stand against you.

  3. In regards to 1: Players gain XP every time they roll a 6- and when they fulfill parts of the End of Session move (or if they have a specific move in their playbook that gives XP, but that’s really rare). They level up when they have their level +7 (or more) XP and trigger the Level Up move.

    In regards to 2: There’s only a risk if there would narratively be a risk. So for example, if they’re flat out trying to lie and there’s a risk that the person they’re lying to could react badly to it, then they would Defy Danger with CHA. The key word with Parlay is leverage, but if they’re just trying to pull the wool over an NPCs eyes and that NPC would be looking for something like that, yeah, then it’s DD with CHA. Hope that helps.

  4. Thanks for all the info. In regards to XP, is there ever any quantities stated or are these up to the discretion of the GM? (Minus the 6- roll which is 1 xp).

    Do characters share xp or generate solo?

  5. In terms of quantity, “mark XP” is equivalent to “add one XP.”  And XP is generated and recorded individually, though some aspects of XP generation are collective.  (See p.76, under the “End of Session” move, “answer these three questions as a group.”)

  6. Xp is not shared, everyone develops and levels on their own time. While some would think this causes power issues between players, in actual use their is little difference. In the end the higher level characters just have more options available to them.

    Parley does cover most interactions, especially when the PC is trying to get something from the NPC. However sometimes you can have your characters roll a Defy Danger Charisma. I would use this for things like a quick lie or bluff, or when the PC is trying to distract the NPC.

  7. These sorts of questions are why I sigh at “make a move,” “fronts”  and “mark XP” as shorthand terms in DW.  Love the game, but I constantly have to translate “cool kid” terms into expanded explanations.

    I never ever say “mark XP”  – I say “get one XP for this.”

  8. This really isn’t a situation of “cool kid lingo” in any way whatsoever. All of this information is in the book, just maybe a little hard to find; all of it is presented in pretty casual English, though, once you find it.

  9. Different systems have different terminology. Learning/explaining what moves and fronts are in Dungeon World is no different from learning/explaining Aces and Raises in Savage Worlds, Aspect in Fate, or Distinctions in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

  10. Christopher Stone-Bush And the fact that they do the same things, but use different terms for it is EXACTLY the “cool kid lingo” I sigh over.  And yes, it’s “cool kid lingo.” 

    It’s an acceptance barrier.  I explain things like this:

    “Your character starts out with the following special abilities.  Each level, you can pick up a special ability from the list on page two.  In addition to this, there’s a set of nine standard abilities that everyone can use.”

    “I’ll be running adventures – adventures in Dungeon World are based around what an opponent wants to accomplish, rather than being a set of pre-built encounters.”

    “You get one experience point for doing the following things:

    1) Any time you roll a six and fail on one of those ability checks.

    2) At the end of a session, you can describe how an existing relationship has changed based on what you’ve done.

    3) At the end of a session, the group will answer three questions and get an experience point for them. This helps fill in the details of what happened so we can go forward with continuity.

    Now, these are all really cool ideas. The chosen names for them do not convey how the ideas work, and my potential players all come from a d20/Pathfinder background – where, having spent two years learning the lingo for THAT game, their expectation is going to be that every game is a college course in arcane terminology…

    And I have to do more work to get the game on the table.

  11. I don’t understand what you mean when you say “they do exactly the same things”, Ken Burnside. I listed several different mechanics from different systems in my example that all do different things.

    Unfortunately learning new lingo when learning a new system is just part of the RPG hobby. It’s unrealistic to expect every system to share the exact same terminology as every other system. Dungeon World is not Pathfinder (despite them both being fantasy games), they don’t share the same core mechanic (d20 vs target number and 2d6 with 3 result tiers), and so again, it’s rather unrealistic to expect these two games to have identical terminology. Even for similar things.

    Dungeon World is a hack of (meaning it’s a modification of)Apocalypse World, and so uses the conventions and terminology of that base game. All the hacks of Apocalypse World (Monsterhearts, Monster of the Week, Sagas of the Icelanders, and others) share that terminology. Just like someone who has played Pathfinder will understand the basics of nearly any other d20 based game, someone who has played Apocalypse World will understand the basics of just about every other AW-based game because they all share a “language”.

    All that being said, there is nothing wrong with explaining things in a way that your players will understand quicker and easier. If they are familiar with Parthfinder, use that as a point of reference when teaching/running Dungeon World. But saying Dungeon World should use the same “language” as Pathfinder is like saying World of Darkness, Cortex Plus, GURPS_, and Savage Worlds should all use the same terminology as Dungeons & Dragons.

  12. GURPS is actually a good model for this. It uses very little mysterious jargon, and explains things clearly.

    I reject your premise that learning a new lingo is inevitable to learning an RPG. At this point, you are too deeply invested in this assumption for me to persuade you.

    It is entirely possible to convey an RPG — particularly a simple one — without burrowing into contextual shorthand. It does require a good idea who your core audience might be, and asking for people to read things from the perspective of a skeptical consumer versed in another game.

  13. I’d like to throw in my two cents.

      To me, having the different lingo is specifically there to invoke a feel for the game.  For example, in Monster Hearts the connection between two people is called a ‘string’ and is specifically named as such because the uses for these connections is to ‘pull their strings’ and compel them to do things for you.  In Dungeon World this connection is called ‘bonds,’ lending the feel of the move more toward that battle-hardened friendship than trying to manipulate someone.

    On the other hand, RPGs sometimes take it too far, like when it comes to the name of the person running the game.  We have GM, DM, MC, and storyteller just to name a few. It gets a little ridiculous at times. 

  14. Let me step back here for a minute to clarify something. Are you unhappy with Dungon World‘s use of system specific jargon, or with the clarity of its examples, Ken Burnside? You start off complaining about DW’s “cool kid terms”, but then talk about the clarity of examples in GURPS. These are separate issues, and I’m uclear which you are having issues with.

  15. Chris, my objection is to the choice of terminology, more than the lack of examples. My examples in this thread highlight where choices for shorthand lingo cause unnecessary confusion.

  16. I obviously can not make you like (or even use) the terminology in Dungeon World, Ken Burnside. However as Charles Persall said, a system’s terminolgy is often used to evoke or reinforce a specific tone or feel. Additionally, systems use different terminology to help distinquish themselves from other systems, as well as provide a shorthand for mechanics.

    I feel as if you’re saying that simply because System X uses a specific terminology, other systems should use that same terminology as well. I feel that is unrealistic. Your players (and you) have spent the past 2 years learning the Pathfinder “language”. Regardless of whether you now start playing Dungeon World, Cortex Plus, Savage Worlds, World of Darkness, GURPS, Ubiquity, Fate, or something else, there is a new “language” for that game, simply because they are different systems. Some of that terminology may be familiar to you, some of it may be brand new. In my opinion, this is simply the nature of the beast.

    Starting to learn/play a brand new system without setting aside the terminology of other systems just makes things difficult.

  17. Christopher Stone-Bush 

    I object to particularly opaque terminology.  It does not evoke the mood in this case – the mood is selling the “generic OSR Dungeon Crawl” feel.

    I object to the use of “artha” to describe “experience points” in Burning Wheel.

    I’m not asking that DW use the term “feats” or whatever from Pathfinder.

    I do object that they call something a “move” when common convention says “a move is changing where your playing piece is on the map”  when they could have called it “a special action” and not forced me to have to explain a piece of terminology that gets misinterpreted.

    You are assuming that I want DW’s terminology to match Pathfinder’s.  I am objecting more to terms like “mark experience” rather than “gain one experience” and “moves” rather than “special actions” because they are unclear enough that we’ve had the original post in this thread asking “how much experience does one get when marking experience?  how is experience divided among the party?”

    Note that if they’d simply said “gain one experience” rather than “mark experience,” this confusion doesn’t happen.

    GURPS, for all of its limitations and accumulated cruft, did a very nice job of conveying its mechanics clearly, with terminology that didn’t require a translator.

  18. I’m sorry you had issues reading DW, I found it fun to read but yah, I get how it can be confusing.

    At this point it’s something to agree to disagree on, cause what I see as strengths of the writing you see as weakness. And I can’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t be inflammatory or sounding negative.

  19. Charles Persall I’ve played enough RPGs (and written enough game rules) to figure it out.

    I shouldn’t have had to do that work in translation.

    Too many games don’t explain enough.  Too many games don’t put in the extra effort to write a good play-through tutorial, because the designers and all the designer’s friends think that they’re a waste of space…and they’re the hardest writing in the book.

    They aren’t a waste of space, and they are the most important writing in the book.

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